Monday, February 4, 2013

How to Never be Afraid
What I perceive is reality, or is it?

Ben Ralston commented that any situation we face is an illusion. Meaning that our perception of the situation predicts outcomes such as moods, feelings, fears, bravery, and concerns.

Consider these different scenarios in relation to a fear of deep water.
REALITY: I may be afraid to jump off a diving board because I am not a strong swimmer.

SURPRISE: If someone pushes me off into the deep end of a pool, without me knowing that the push will happen, I cannot say that I would be afraid of falling into the water.

UNKNOWN: Suppose I was blindfolded. And then I walked into a swimming pool, I would not have had any time to start being afraid.

Any situation we face is an illusion.

I often study sensation and perception as a Social Science topic. We choose a phenomenon (such as a fear of deep water) and then we try to break down the factors and predict how changing one factor will change an outcome. Or how groups of factors can change an outcome. We manipulate and define variables. How deep is the water? How deep do I think the water is? Am I confident? Have I had practice swimming? When was the last time I swam? What happened the last time I swam? Am I physically fit enough to actually swim? 

We come up with results and we predict how people will perceive things like a sound, or a note (in auditory perception) or a word or a item. I must have nearly drown due to panic. I must have nearly drown due to being out of shape. Or bad leg cramp. Or the surprise of being pushed into a pool.


Why is this?

Any situation we face is an illusion.

Social Science tells us that according to our NEUROLOGICAL MAKEUP (nurture or nurture), our brains form and shape based on previous or repetitive situations. When jumping into deep waters for the first time, I realize that I am a weak swimmer. I panic. I begin to think "wow! I just may die or get injured!" After being saved from the ordeal, I naturally associate DEEP WATER = with= PANIC/ DANGER. Social Science also looks at GENETIC MAKEUP (nature). Perhaps I have a natural phobia of a sort. I may have been born with one or more abnormalities that result in a fear of deep waters. We also consider SOCIAL MAKEUP (nurture). My fear response is related to a social situation. An invite to a pool party or a swim party or a beach event may make me uneasy. I may think about drowning. I may avoid the party. Or I may show up and create an excuse as to why I need to leave.

Any situation we face is an illusion.

Social Science looks at how us humans make our perceptions (such as fears) a reality. Recall the REALITY, SURPRISE, AND UNKNOWN aspects of a fear such as being afraid of deep water. The perception that DEEP WATER <= => PANIC/ DANGER is in many ways an illusion.


Because deep water is not inherently dangerous to EVERYONE. It is only dangerous to weak swimmers, fatigued swimmers, and those who cannot swim. Deep water is dangerous in relation to accidents. But deep water is not always dangerous. A good diver would need the water to be deep for their safety. Shallow water could cause injury or death when diving.


Suppose I am confident. I don't panic. I know I can float on my back. And swim on my back. And swim freestyle. I do have some swimming skills. If I jump willingly into the deep end of the water and I do not panic, then I may be just fine! I may be able to swim and enjoy the water properly. 

Past experiences can shape our future. I can avoid pools and pool parties. But I can also go to the parties and have some great fun.

This is not a truly serious issue. But imagine other issues that are more serious. How do they shape our thinking? How do they limit us?

We can change. It isn't easy, but we can disprove false instincts by closely analyzing their reality.

Of course it is not wise to never pay attention to your gut. But sometimes our instincts deceive us. One bad situation early on can cause us some real pain later on in life. We may miss out on opportunities due to fears. We may surround ourselves with bad people and make terrible decisions.

Trying to disprove some fears can really help our lives. But still, be safe!

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